tonight on "nightline" -- radical downsizing. it's a new surgical procedure that takes under an hour, eliminates hunger hormones and requires no hospital stay. and it's giving new hope to patients who have tried everything else to lose weight. could this be the end of the diet as we know it? faded glory. with soaring ceilings and dazzling live theater, the hour of power spared no expense in giving glory to god. so how did america's original mega church go broke? and the homestretch in this election campaign. there are two dirty words and we'll tell you both of them in
tonight's "sign of the times." good evening, i'm terry moran. we're going to begin tonight with america's obesity epidemic and the pioneer in louisiana. patients there are putting their faith in a new surgery that is unquestionably radical. it involves the complete removal from the body of most of the patient's stomach. the surgery has shown early promise. for some patients, it could be a lifesaver. matt gutman has our report. >> i'm melanie. i had my surgery five months ago. i had the gastric sleeve. i lost 80 pounds. >> i lost 66 pounds. >> hi, i'm cindy. i lost 158 pounds in 11 months.
>> reporter: these women are some recent success stories in the never-ending battle against obesity. they're winning that fight not through diet or exercise or even pills but with an extreme surgery called vertical sleeve gasterectomy. where in less than an hour, 85% of the stomach is removed permanently. some believe these drastic operations are the only real cure for obesity. >> a rabbit out of a hat. >> reporter: that was the bulk of holly's stomach. who we first met the day before her operation. >> it's way overdue. i've been fighting with weight since i was 6 years old. i've been on every diet. you name it, i've done it. and i may lose weight here and there but then it winds up creeping back on. >> reporter: more than 200 pounds overweight, this 38 yaerld nurse doesn't have many choices left. >> i don't have a whole lot of medical issues yet.
but genetically it's going to happen sooner, you know, sooner or later. >> reporter: just as important to her, she can't keep up with the rest of her family. >> i want to take them o disney and go on the rides with them. i've never been able to do that. >> reporter: she can't run. hasn't flown in decades. and knows that sooner or later that fat will kill her. >> if ya'll want to talk about what we're doing tomorrow. >> reporter: for holly, the point of no return has arrived. >> i've always been on the obese side, not just carrying 20 extra, 30 extra pounds. so yeah it's been a long time that i've dealt with it and i'm ready to not deal with it anymore. i'm ready to deal with some other things. >> reporter: first, there's the surgery to deal with. that's dr. david treen, holly's bariatric surgeon. a preacher of the sleeves go sell. what kind of weight do you
expect people to lose within the first three months? >> it varies depending on what their weight is to start with but it's not unusual for us to see a patient lose 100 pounds in six months with this. >> reporter: what also goes when the stomach is removed is a hormone that stimulates the appetite. >> we remove this part of the stomach. most of our patients tell us after surgery they're not hungry ever. >> reporter: he advocates this surgery over traditional bare yachtic surgeries like lap band and bypass because it's less complicated. it can be done on an outpatient basis and is more affordable. a couple of years ago it cost $30,000. now just around $12,000. a lot of this is about the money, right? >> well, for the patients, it's much more affordable option. many of the patients that we see do not have insurance coverage for bariatric surgery but they desperately need it and desperately want it. >> reporter: treen won't perform this operation on the super
obese, those with a body mass index of over 50. his patients with a bmi of 30 is classified as just morbidly obese. >> you can't have hot dogs. >> reporter: bob is one of those people. he's paying the $12,000 in cash. and for that price, he's got to be in and out of the hospital in one day. >> this is the -- diabetes. i take one of these every morning. >> reporter: accompanying him on his short hospital stay is this mountain of pill bottles. medicines he takes for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, migraines. all of them side effects of his obesity. >> i take one or two of these -- all of them every day. >> reporter: how many pill a day do you take do you think? >> 15. >> reporter: he is in surgery. this 45-minute surgery should change bob's life? >> absolutely. absolutely. he will probably lose 100 pounds
in the first six months. his weight loss will slow down after the first six months is up. but by that time, that big bag of medicines will probably be a very small bag of medicines. >> reporter: the surgery on the special bad capable of bearing 1,500 pounds of weight is remarkably neat. very little blood. no gashes. what portion is staying and what portion is going? >> this is the upper part of the stomach that's coming down. this is now the sleeve part. this is the pouch. and this -- all this is coming out. >> reporter: wow. so how much smaller now is bob's stomach than it was 20 minutes ago? >> it has the capacity of about a plastic easter egg. >> reporter: for tr een, the advances of the surgery allow him to perform surgeries before lunch. there's more than enough demand.
what would happen if bthis surgery was covered by health insurance? >> if every patient had coverage, i would probably have to hire five or six more surgeons to handle it. >> reporter: a line out of the door? >> a lot of people. while the cost is in the neighborhood of about $12,000 for everything, the savings -- it's been shown by studies that it pays for itself in about three to four years. and if patients finance it, it's like buying an inexpensive car but this lasts a lot longer than the car does. >> reporter: for the rest of his life, bob will be physically unable to consume more than two medicine cups full of food at a time. with the portion removed, he won't have the appetite he used to. you look a lot better than you did. >> a little bit of pain. nothing that's unbearable or anything. >> reporter: while the complications can include
leakage or fluid escaping from the stomach, because the surgery is relatively new, long-term complications are unknown. just over four hours later, bob, still woozy and achey, is on his way home. >> but the real hard part is going to be not eating i guess. i haven't kuwait figured all that out yet. >> slow and easy. >> reporter: one patient out the door. a couple of hours later, a new round of pro expect itspective n the door. twice a month, a seminar on the surgery some consider the best cure for the obesity epidemic. >> it's not uncommon for patients after to tell us they're not hungry ever, ever. >> reporter: getting rid of 85% of your stomach may be extreme. but for more and more folks, it may be the only cure in their battle against obesity. >> ready to go home?
>> reporter: i'm matt gutman for "nightline" in louisiana. >> a radical new approach. we just talked about brazil today, ten days after his surgery. he says that he's off both of his diabetes medicines already. thanks to matt gutman for that report. and when we come back, we'll turn to america's original mega church. ♪ [ male announcer ] you're at the age where you don't get thrown by curve balls. ♪ this is the age of knowing how to get things done. ♪ so why would you let something like erectile dysfunction get in your way? isn't it time you talked to your doctor about viagra? 20 million men already have. ♪ with every age comes responsibility. ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex.
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right here in this neighborhood, i grew up learning strong families and hard work means opportunity. and that starts with good schools. it's a tradition here in maryland-- and why in these tough times i've put education first. we've made record investments in our classrooms... doubled the number of charter schools... and we've frozen college tuition for four years in a row. and it's working. experts say we now have the number one schools in the nation. when it comes to expanding opportunity in every neighborhood, i know that we must do even better. big lae.
it is the longest running television ministry in history, the hour of power, broadcast from the crystal keyed that dral. this became known for the charismatic preaching. and for the holiday producks they put on. how then did america's original mega church come to find itself $50 million in debt? david wright reports for our series "faith matters." >> reporter: in garden grove, california, the theme of worship yesterday was indebtedness. this was the first sunday service since the church filed for bankruptcy so the founder's message to his flock had special poignancy. >> never look at what you have left. >> reporter: over the past 50
years, dr. robert h. schiller built this place from what was once a drive-in movie theater into america's original mega church complete with a weekly sunday broadcast. >> join us for america's television church -- >> reporter: the "hour of power," the first and longest-running television ministry in history. schiller famously saved evel knievel. >> the god you're praying to is never going to hear you anything. >> no, he wasn't. i was empty. >> reporter: upbeat in that blue academic gown, he was one of the most recognizable preachers in america. >> the solution is not to look at the problem but to look at the possibilities. >> reporter: at its height, his message of positive prayer reached an audience of millions. >> the tower of hope. >> reporter: the glory of christmas and easter pageants always featured live camels and donkeys. i mean, you're found of this place?
>> oh, my god, i love the place. it was so inspiring, you walk on that campus and you're just exhilarated beyond description. now you feel heart broken. >> reporter: the church is now more than $50 million in debt. among the creditors left hanging, christina oliver. so who's this? >> this is pistol. >> reporter: her family has provided the animals for the christmas pageant for more than 30 years. i gather they haven't been paying their bills. >> correct. >> reporter: to the tune of for you? >> uh, 57,000. >> reporter: they owe you $57,000? >> yes. >> reporter: the olivers lost their house after the church didn't pay up last christmas. so this year for the first time since pistol's grandfather first appeared at the cathedral, these animals won't take part in the annual pageant. >> it's upsetting that a family representing the lord is mismanaging funds. and not stepping up to the
plate. >> reporter: the official explanation for the bankruptcy is that the bad economy has taken its toll on the church's support base. >> never before in the history of this country has so many churches been in bankruptcy. we face financial challenges too. >> reporter: but insiders, including dr. shuler's son, robert a. shuler, tell a different story. >> i think if i were still the leader there it would be a different story today. >> reporter: he had been groomed to succeed his father but his tenure as senior pastor lasted barely two years. until his sisters and brothers in law forced him out. >> they said my sermons weren't adequate for the "hour of power" and by october they said i could preach anytime other than sunday mornings. so with that i resigned. so -- >> reporter: and what -- >> you tell me whether i was kicked out or whether i resigned, i don't know. >> reporter: doesn't sound like it was a happy parting of the ways. >> yeah, not really, no.
>> reporter: robert a.'s daughter is even more blunt. >> when you mix faith, family and fame, it's a toxic combination and people start vying for positions of power. and i think that's what led to the crystal cathedral crumbling. >> celebrate after noons -- >> reporter: robert a. shuler now runs a successful media network with his son-in-law called american life tv that they recently purchased from the unification church. his daughter angie has a website called spiritual wellness.com. >> have you been hurt by a priest, pastor or spiritual mentor? >> reporter: the theme that at least in these promotional videos seems to hit close to home. >> if you no longer feel safe in church, it's probably because someone tried to manipulate and control your experience with god. i launched spiritualwellness.com because we were able to move through the anger, through the sadness and accept what is. sometimes faith is letting go. >> reporter: the shulers, who
are still holding on at crystal cathedral, include angie's aunt, robert h.'s daughter. as senior pastor, it fell to her to break the news of the bankruptcy in a press conference on the steps of the chapel. >> our ministry will continue as -- as usual. there will be -- the school will continue to be held here. our television services will continue to be aired. >> reporter: from the pulpit yesterday, she made it sound like she's simply channeling god's will. >> that press conference was set for 3:00. and at 5 minutes to 3:00, the lord whispered in my ear, he said, dear daughter, don't you get it? i have given you all this free air time so you can go give my message of hope. >> the kids in the shuler family were -- i don't like to use the word "coddled" but they were protected. they never got out there and had a chance to make it on their
own. >> reporter: renowned musician roger williams played piano at crystal cathedral for free for 35 years until he abruptly cut this summer. >> my dad gave me some real good advice. he said, son, don't ever get into bitter family fights. he said, nobody wins. i took his advice. i walked away. >> reporter: it's fascinating. it's tragic. yet so human. >> i cry thinking about it because i love -- it's my church. >> reporter: and you miss it? >> you bet i do. >> reporter: for his part, robert a. shuler can envision a day when crystal cathedral may not have a shuler at the helm. >> nothing lasts forever. and there's a season for everything unto heaven as it says in ecclesiastics. a time to be born and a time to die. >> reporter: it's one thing to read that in the gospel, quite another thing -- >> to live it, yeah, yeah, it is. >> reporter: at the crystal cathedral now, they are living
it under the supervision of a bankruptcy judge. i'm david wright for "nightline" in garden grove, california. >> faith, family and fame. up next, the two dirtiest words in politics today. first is the first 4g phone. first is live video chat on the go. so you can be face-to-face even when you can't be. whether you're on 4g, 3g...
striking number of candidates has latched on to as particularly abrasive. for john berman, that's a "sign of the times." >> i'm running for the united states senate. >> reporter: meet senate candidate linda mcmahon. she says she's not a -- >> career politician. >> reporter: rand paul from kentucky says he's not a -- >> career politician. >> reporter: sharron angle not a -- >> career politician. >> reporter: an eye surgeon and a substitute teacher. it may very well be that 2010 is the political year of not politics. >> steven fitcher, deep roots in tennessee, not politics. >> reporter: steven fincher says he wants to plow congress. pizza man bobby schilling wants to deliver for illinois. get it? delaware senate candidate christine o'donnell is not a lot of things. >> i'm not a witch. >> reporter: and not a career politician. of course, that might be just because she's run twice before and lost. >> give me some fives. >> reporter: chris dudley played
16 years in the nba. he now wants to be governor of oregon. how can you tell a basketball player might make a good governor? >> i think you will see it by their work ethic, determination, discipline and team work, how they work with the team. >> reporter: so ball hogs -- >> well, yeah, that's -- i go with the team player. >> reporter: what about free their percentage? >> irrelevant. >> reporter: he shot less than 50% from the line. but that blip aside, isn't nba career the right experience to run a state? >> here in oregon, our last two governors have had over 60 years of experience between two of them. yet here we sit, 42nd in unemployment, 43rd in education. hunger, homelessness. the verdict's in. it hasn't worked. so i think the point is there's experience outside of government as well. >> reporter: but is experience in government necessarily a bad thing? you might have heard of thomas jefferson. before he was president, he was
in the virginia house of delegates, virginia of governor, ambassador to france, secretary of state and vice president. technically that makes hum a -- >> career politician. >> reporter: teddy roosevelt, before president, was police commissioner, new york state assemblyman, assistant secretary the navy, governor of new york, and vice president. what do you call that? a -- >> career politician. >> reporter: and when exactly does a politician become a car rather politician? career politician? the late senator robert byrd was considered a -- >> career politician. >> reporter: he served 51 years in the senate. but he wasn't born there. he once worked as a gas station attendant and grocery store clerk. yes, almost every career politician is something else first. so with a pizza store owner, wrestling mogul, even an eye doctor wins, you might say at least for a time their job will be -- >> career politician. >> reporter: or is showing up here every day just a hobby? i'm john berman for "nightline" in new york. >> nice, john, thanks to john
berman for that report. for the first time tonight, we'd like to invite you to try out our new online breaking news future, "nightline" now, bringing you live twitter feeds from elections around the country. go to nightlinenow.com to try it out. next, telling the president to shove it. that's the subject of tonight's "closing argument." first, jimmy with what's next. >> tonight, author and comedian, sleep walker, mike birbiglia. and dr. oz.